How to see Jupiter’s opposition, close approach Monday, Sept. 26

Experts say you need a large telescope to see the Red Spot, but even good binoculars are enough to capture some detail.

Stargazers have two good reasons to look at Jupiter on Monday evening.

NASA says the gas giant will reach opposition – rising in the east as the sun sets in the west – making it appear larger and brighter than usual for those with clear skies.

Jupiter’s opposition occurs every 13 months, but it coincides with a far more unusual event on Monday: the planet’s closest approach to Earth since 1963.

“Jupiter’s closest approach to Earth rarely coincides with opposition, meaning this year’s prospects will be extraordinary,” NASA wrote in a blog post.

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Close approaches occur because the planets do not orbit the Sun in perfect circles and pass each other at different distances. At its extreme point, Jupiter is about 600 million miles from Earth. When it comes closest on Monday, NASA says it will be about 367 million miles away.

How to observe Jupiter’s opposition:

So will you be able to see Jupiter’s famous stripes and swirls? NASA astrophysicist Adam Kobelski said a good pair of binoculars should allow you to see some streaks and three or four of the planet’s many moons. A larger telescope will show you more detail about Jupiter’s bands and the Great Red Spot.

“The view should be great for a few days before and after September 26,” Kobelski said in the NASA blog post. “So take advantage of the good weather on both sides of this date to enjoy the sight. Outside of the moon, it should be one of (if not the) brightest objects in the night sky.”

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Earth’s moon, which can make faint detail in the night sky difficult to see during a full moon, will be close to new moon on Monday evening — new moon is on Sunday.

Kobelski said a dark, dry location with a high altitude would be best for stargazers to enjoy the sight. Whether you’re using binoculars or a larger telescope, stability is key.

That’s not all!

It’s a busy week for Jupiter. NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which will orbit the gas giant for six years, will approach within 222 miles of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. Researchers hope Juno can obtain some of the highest-resolution images ever taken of the lunar surface and collect valuable data.

Europa is one of four “Galilean satellites” – Jupiter’s largest moons, discovered in 1610 by the famous astronomer Galileo. Scientists predict that beneath Europa’s frozen surface lies a salty ocean.

Juno has sent back images of Jupiter and its moons for years, but NASA recently unveiled unprecedented images of the planet from the James Webb Space Telescope. The artificially colored infrared images captured Jupiter’s northern and southern lights, the Great Red Spot and countless smaller storms.

Juno’s mission will run until 2025, or until the end of the spacecraft’s lifespan.

NASA’s next big plan for exploring Jupiter is the Europa Clipper, a spacecraft designed to explore Europa in nearly 50 flybys and see if its conditions could support life. The vehicle is currently being assembled, with launch planned for 2024.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/jupiter-opposition-close-approach/507-1abf8a25-79c9-408d-a550-d133e3eb3fe4 How to see Jupiter’s opposition, close approach Monday, Sept. 26

Alley Einstein

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